Skip To Content

From the West Wing: The Next Big Bagel Reveal

Image by Anya Ulinich

Finally, I got Susan Rice to laugh. And it was about a bagel.

It was at the end of our discussion Monday in her White House office, about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and U.N. resolutions and so forth. She is as composed and restrained as you would imagine for someone who spent more than four years at the United Nations and now three years as National Security Advisor – even more so, given her inscrutable demeanor and the sense that she does not tolerate fools gladly at all.


So I needed to inject some Jewish warmth and humor into the room. I asked her about her favorite bagel.

After all, this question worked brilliantly when I posed it to President Obama in the Oval Office last year, at the end of my historic interview with him. Not only did he reveal that his favorite bagel was poppyseed, he reminisced about his days as a college student at Columbia walking down Broadway to H&H bagels to buy one, then expressed shock that that branch of the iconic bagel factory had closed.

We even discussed his favorite topping. (“Just a schmear.”)

For some reason, Rice was unaware of this bit of news about her boss. So when I asked her for her favorite bagel, the answer surprised us all.


“No, really?” I replied. “You know that is his.”

“No I didn’t know that. I had no idea!”

And this is when she laughed. Not just laughed – but leaned forward in her chair and clapped and smiled.

Clearly, the answer to getting ahead in the Obama administration is to share a secret affinity for doughy round bread with little black seeds.

For the record, Rice likes cream cheese, lox, capers and some lemon on her bagel. No onions.

But she didn’t say schmear.

Jane Eisner is editor-in-chief of the Forward. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter, @Jane_Eisner

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.